She’s been coddled. Spoiled really – in every sense of the word. I have been of the mind that kids do what they need to do when they need to do it and then she grew beyond all the mama tricks of babyhood and I discovered that she would actually stay up all night if I let her (I actually knew this one all along.) Then I found out that she would only eat marshmallows if I let her. Then the realization hit that she would actually prefer not listen to a stinking word I or anyone else has to say unless it has to do with chocolate – who does she think she is? Bartleby?

So, since she’s now four and still has a grasp on me like a teething toddler to a wet washcloth, we’re untying, unknotting the apron strings and setting some rules ’round these parts.

1. If we ask her do something that she can do for herself and she decides not to, we walk away instead of doing it for her and we both suffer the consequences (I can’t wait to walk into school with her stark raving naked – woo hoo!) We’re going for some independence here on her part. She needs to know that we know she can do things like get dressed, feed herself, open her lunch. Etc. I just wanted her to stay baby for so long I’ve become as Sarah said, “An enabler.” YIKES! Bad Mama. Bad Mama.

2. Dinner time, same time, same place and she has to sit for it (this is going to make me insane!) We actually use to try this but then it became just another bedtime (you think teething is bad, try putting this tiger to bed at night – can you say mama-ulcer.) Bed for her is like prison with kitty sheets and it has been this way since birth. Eating while sitting comes in at a close second.

3. Bed time, same time, same place, on her own (at least after the five hundred times we both have to go in and settle her back into bed from the ear scaring, body flinging, f*** you we get every night from her hiny-ness (she doesn’t really say f*** you but I’m sure she would if she knew how.) We couldn’t sleep together anymore – no one was sleeping.

I know these things sound ludicrous. She’s four for Christ sake. But I’ve been teaching full-time since she was one and when I go to work, I take the growler with me. I have very little negotiations skills with those under 35 at the end of my day.

I have a classroom full of 5-7 year-olds and she’s just across the hall and she often needs me throughout the day. Well, her teacher’s have set me straight. She actually doesn’t need me during the day, she needs some space and some trust that she can cope on her own with the help of her wonderful school family and if in dire need, I’m right there for her just like always.

She’s pretty much had the run of the school her entire life and this is her first year in her own class, all day. It’s a hard transition but it’s time she had boundaries at school and at home. I want to be with her and she wants to be with me but we both do actually need time apart and we both actually enjoy this time whether either of us wants to admit it or not. And I get to sneak and peak at her having her gloriously wonderful days playing with her friends everyday (which is now only three days a week since her dad is working from home.) She loves school. I love school. We have to just find a happy medium and grow a little. She just moved out of my bed and into her own because she wanted to when she got her new bigger bed and new sheets and she hasn’t asked to come back. We’re changing and discovering the world as individuals as well as in our little two woman team.

I just wanted to give her everything, all the support and love and understanding and help that everyone deserves but I do realize I have given too much or let too much slide and that she is fully capable of taking the lid off of her apple sauce, lifting her own spoon to her pouty lips, pulling her own underwear up (even if they’re on backwards) and feeling her own pride in her own accomplishments. That fine line between babyhood and kidhood goes right along with the fine line between helping and hindering. But I just love her so much.

I always thought you can’t really spoil kids or coddle too much or help too much – have you ever heard of being too helpful? Well, I’m here to testify – I’m too helpful and it’s become helpful in a non-helpful way. But, I’m learning. It’s so much easier to teach other people’s children. I’m the exact parent that makes me crazy as a teacher.

We’ve really been sticking to the bedtime routine for the past month since she’s been in her bed and it really is getting easier (most nights.) And although the rest of the boundaries we’ve set, we just started today but I began naming what was next such as we’re going to take a bath, go pee, brush our teeth, read a book, go to sleep. We had a horrible transition home because I made her walk to the car (god forbid.) But when she got out of the tub, she walked up to me, told me what was next and then what came after that and then said; “After bedtime, I’ll wake up and go to school.” She really does need some schedule and expectations – that she can count on day after day. So much for our hippie, fly by the seat of our pants ways.

Autumn, I’m still your safety net but I can’t wait to see you walk the tight rope all by yourself. Go get ’em sweets – you’re bad-ass and can do anything you set your mind to!


2 Responses to “Coddled”

  1. parenthood is the one job where you really won’t know if you did it right until it is too late. We are going through a period of reflection and changes here too; it is so easy to discount all the great things you’ve done and only focus on what you think needs changing.
    When my first was a baby people were constantly telling me what a great mother I was; my kids are 8 and 5 and I don’t ever hear that anymore. I miss it, we all need that type of affirmation from folks who see us parent.

  2. […] 20, 2007 · Filed under Autumn I’ve kind-of-sort-of been on this new routine to get our life into some order because my kid seems to need more boundaries and rules even if I […]

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